The best laser cutters are becoming more and more affordable, making them a viable option for makers, creators, agencies and even just DIYers and hobbyists. That means you can make accurate and precise cuts to all sorts of materials, from leather and wood to glass and plastic, without breaking a sweat. So whether you want to engrave calligraphy fonts onto jewellery or imprint a logo design onto a sign (after learning how to design a logo, of course), the best laser cutter can help you out in numerous ways.
It's still quite an investment, though, so you don't want to waste your money. To help you out, we've gathered together the best laser cutters on the market, in one easy post. We begin with the best laser cutter in the USA, but if you're on the other side of the Atlantic, skip forward to the the best laser cutter in the UK.
The best laser cutters: US
For most purposes, the High-Ten Upgraded Version CO2 is the best laser cutter you can buy right now. This capable machine will cut everything from acrylic and plywood to leather, glass and cloth. It's compatible with CorelDraw, and there's a handy USB port you can use to get your designs onto the machine. Note, though, that you can't use it to cut metal.
A red light positioning system make it easier to accurately line up your materials, plus a suspension system immediately halts the laser whenever you open the doors. Speaking of doors, the front and rear double doors allow you the space to engrave materials of any length. You can see it in action in this video of the Ten-High Upgraded Version CO2 in operation.
Need a large working area for your projects? Then you'll love the 130W Reci W4 C02 laser tube engraver cutter machine, which has a generous engraving area of 1300 x 900mm. What's more, this machine is speedy and precise and can cope with a range of materials, including plastic, wood, bamboo, paper, acrylic, marble and glass, although it's not suitable for cutting metal.
It's compatibile with a wide range of software, including AutoCAD and CorelDRAW, as well as a range of file formats. Just be mindful of its size; with dimensions of approximately 72 x 56 x 41 inches, you're going to need a lot of space to accommodate it.
The Triumph Fiber Laser Cutting Machine is made for cutting metal, making it ideal for engraving. You can cut aluminium, stainless steel, copper, gold and silver without shadowing thanks to a high-speed galvanometer.
Overall, this is a very capable system that allows you to cut on a work area up to 200 x 200mm and at a rate of 9,000mm/s. The interface is relatively simple to use with a touch screen and support for .CAD, .JPG, .PLT and plenty more. And best of all, it comes with software pre-installed, so you can get right to work.
The AtomStack Portable Mini Laser Engraver is a great little machine for crafters and hobbyists. While some of the cutters on our list verge into industrial design and work flows, this neat little cutter is ideal for home projects.
It comes 85% assembled, which may sound like a strange brag but it's actually very welcome when dealing with laser cutters. The machine can cut and engrave most small items you'd want to use it with from glasses to leather bags and picture frames. This new edition comes with a new eye-proctor too, so it's small, easy to use, and safe.
The best laser cutters: UK
Here's our pick as the best laser cutting overall in the UK, as long as you don't need to cut metal. Thanks to a handy USB port, it's easy to get projects onto the The Ten-High Upgraded Version CO2. And impressively, it can cut at a rate of 3600mm per minute on its 400 x 600mm cutting plate.
This machine allows you cut all sorts of materials: acrylic, plywood, density board, leather, wood, double colour plate, glass, cloth, bamboo and paper, to name but a few. A red light positioning system makes cutting easy to line up, while a cooling system keeps everything safe. All in all, unless you need to cut metal, you won't find finer.
If you're a hobbyist looking for a versatile laser cutter, we'd recommend the Orion Motor Tech 40W. It works with a wide range of materials, though not metal. There's a decent-sized 300x200mm surface, with clamps to keep your cutting material in place and a level board to enable you to work with bulkier objects. And a red dot pointer indicates the engraving point and path, to help you ensure you get the right position and scale for your object.
Elsewhere, the pre-installed exhaust fan keeps everything cool, with low noise. And there are four detachable wheels you can use to move this laser cutter around easily. On the downside, while this machine does come with software, it's not really worth bothering with, so we'd recommend downloading K40 Whisperer and Inkscape instead.
The LaserPecker 2 Laser Engraver is great if you're looking for a laser cutter you can carry about easily, this nifty little device is a great choice for a home crafter or DIYer. Compact in size (162.5 x 60 x 122mm), weighing just 2.2kg and with a useful handle, it's lovely and portable.
The LaserPecker 2 Laser Engraver can cut wood, paper, acrylic and leather that's 5mm thick or less. And it's packed with safety features, including a protective shield, goggles, over-heating protection, password lock, motion detection, laser indicator and overheat shut down.
As above but stripped back and limited in its capabilities, the Laserpecker Mini Desktop Laser Engraver, a miniature laser cutter you can fit right on your computer desk, is still a handy machine to have. It's also portable enough to bring with you should you want to do some creative work away from home.
Just connect the engraver to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth and you can transfer your designs to wood, felt, and corrugated paper, among other light materials. You can even engrave fruit, if that's your kind of thing. A pair of safety goggles are included too. While it's not as robust or as feature-laden as the more expensive LaserPecker 2 Laser Engraver, this is still a solid entry-level engraver.
As the name suggests the Pergear LaserStorm S5 Laser Engraver's primary purpose is to etch and engrave your collectibles and craft items. While this can cut various materials, including thin plastic and leather, this isn't what the LaserStorm is made for; it's on our list as it's a great engraver.
The Pergear LaserStorm can carve into most materials you'll be using for craft projects – such as wood, bamboo, cardboard, plastic, leather, and meta. It can even engrave onto slate, which is great news for anyone who wants to name their home. This is a well-designed product that's great for one thing – engraving – and okay at cutting.
What is a laser cutter?
A laser cutter is a device that creates patterns, shapes and designs in materials such as wood, glass, paper, metal and plastic, by cutting into them with a high-power laser. The precision of a laser makes for a clean cut and smooth finish. Laser cutting has been used for many decades in large-scale manufacturing, but more recently laser cutters have become more affordable and are increasingly used by hobbyists, schools and small businesses.
How do you choose the best laser cutter for your needs?
First, you'll need to set yourself a budget. Remember that if you're going to be monetising this skill, then pushing your budget as high as possible makes sense to get the best end product in the fastest time, and with the lowest usage costs. It is vital to consider the cost of replacement parts – you don't want to find yourself unable to keep the machine running. Another is speed, especially if your aim is to mass produce a product to sell within a limited time. Accuracy is also important so you may want to focus on that when narrowing down your options.
Size, weight and power usage are further considerations, since you may have a space that simply won't fit one of these beasts, or they may be too power hungry for you to run. That said, if you want speed you may need to use more power for a more powerful cutting laser that gets your final result faster. You will also need to check the cutting plate size to make sure it's big enough to suit whatever it is that you're cutting.
What are the different types of laser cutter?
There are three main types of laser cutter. CO2 laser cutters use electrically-stimulated CO2, and are typically used for cutting, boring and engraving. This is the most common laser cutter to be used by hobbyists and makers. Crystal laser cutters use nd:YVO and nd:YAG, and are high powered, so they can cut through thicker materials. Fibre Laser Cutters use fibreglass and can work with both metal and non-metal materials.
What's the best laser cutter?
In our opinion, the best laser cutter you can buy today is the Ten-High Upgraded Version CO2 Laser Cutter. It's suitable for engraving on most non-metal materials, including acrylic, plywood, density board, leather, wood, double colour plate, glass, cloth, bamboo and paper. You can cut materials of any length. There's a red light positioning system to help you line up your materials carefully. It connects to your laptop via USB, and it's compatible with CorelDRAW design software (not included).
Can you cut anything with a laser cutter?
There are certain materials that you should never cut with a laser cutter. These include PVC vinyl, pleather or faux leather, and ABS polymer, which is commonly used in 3D pens and 3D printers. Both emit chlorine gas when cut. You should also not laser-cut polystyrene foam, polyprylene foam or HDPE (a plastic used to make milk bottles), as these will all catch fire. There are many other materials that should not be laser-cut, so always read the instructions carefully.